Monday, May 3, 2010

Saying Goodbye To a King

Dear J'Bo,

I remember the day we brought you home. You looked like a big, blond, four-legged powder puff. We put you down in our house, and you proceeded to investigate every corner, as if you were casing the joint to see if it met your expectations. As I recall, it took about 5 minutes for you to get yourself into a bit of a sticky wicket. We'd had an unwelcome visit from a mouse, and I'd completely forgotten about hiding a couple of glue boards behind the furniture. Of course you found them, and they found you...with a vengeance. That "too close" encounter led to your first trim.

You soon settled in and began to hold court in true pekingese fashion. You claimed my eldest son as "your boy", and would not hear of any young female coming near him. You loudly proclaimed that you were the boss to anyone who would listen.

Your short, stubby little legs served you well, especially when you wanted to play your favorite game of chase. You invariably decided to play this game when we were trying to get out the door on school mornings. I still have vivid visions of you dashing madly down the street, furry ears flapping in the breeze, tongue hanging out in a wild doggie grin, with two little boys running full steam after you screaming at the top of their lungs for you to stop!! That never did work, yet they would fall for your game again... and again... and again.

You were a bossy boy, and you loved to have the last word. If you had something to say, by golly, you were going to say it. We'd tell you to hush, and you would, but only after one last soft..."woof". You loved nothing more than telling off the neighbor dogs, even if the neighbor dogs outweighed you three to one. We always said you thought you were a rottweiler, and apparently, so did the bigger dogs in the neighborhood. They always backed down and gave you a wary look like they thought you were a little bit of a loose cannon. You could almost hear them saying, "Better not mess with him. He'll cut you."

And so it went. You were king of the hill, and wore your banner proudly. Of course, as always happens, your back and legs eventually began to fail you, but your attitude never faltered. Even after you were forced to slow down, and ultimately came to depend on the humans in your life to carry you everywhere you went, you still reminded us of your royal position in the family. Make no mistake about it. You were still in charge. Baby Jayne and Yogi, your canine siblings, deferred to you even when you reached the point where you were helpless to defend your position in the family.

We knew you were getting older, and talked often about it. We tried to prepare ourselves, because we knew the day would come. But no matter how hard we tried, we found that there was only so much we could do in order to prepare to say goodbye to you, our little king. One recent afternoon, after 14 and 1/2 years, you suddenly made it clear that you were ready. We just surrounded you, laughing through our tears at the multitude of memories, and told you it would be okay as you took your last breath cradled in the loving arms of your boy.

I still wake up at night with a startle, worried that you haven't informed me of your need to go outside. Your boy still looks for you when he walks in the door from work. The stabbing pain is beginning to gradually fade into a dull ache as the holes in our hearts slowly heal, but in their place will be a special little spot where the love and memories will forever reside. the back yard two little dogs sit, keeping watch, next to a small mound covered with smooth white stones...still deferring to their brother, the king.